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Planned cuts to Allegheny County Controller's Office spawn strong rhetoric

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Friction between Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Controller Chelsa Wagner spilled over into County Council's budget considerations this week with each side sending tartly worded letters over proposed budget cuts in the Controller's Office.

Council has been debating Fitzgerald's $799.4 million budget for 2013 that includes $647,000 in cuts — about 10 percent — to Wagner's office. Several council members have proposed restoring about $200,000 of those reductions.

The strong rhetoric is leading up to a showdown when council passes a final budget next month.

“(Fitzgerald) has informed council members that any cuts to my office, up to and including his proposal, of the most draconian cut of $647,228, would not require any layoffs, and further indicated that such a cut would allow us to operate at current staffing levels. This could not be further from the truth,” Wagner wrote to council on Wednesday. “I want to ensure that you know, without any doubt, that this claim is blatantly false, and has no basis in fact.”

Fitzgerald has maintained that his budget would not require layoffs.

“The most important issue to me in this position is jobs — whether it be protecting them or creating them,” Fitzgerald wrote on Friday. “I would not, and have not, present a budget that would result in layoffs unless there was no other way that it could be avoided.”

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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